A person’s ZIP Code has been shown to have a greater impact on health and well-being than their genetic code, affecting access to education, transportation, and wealth. How is this possible? This provocative new documentary ZIP CODE MATTERS boldly asks the question and gets profound and insightful answers from the nation’s leading policymakers, nonprofit executives, public health officials and social scientists, researchers, authors, civil rights, and social justice activists. Audiences will learn about the connection between ZIP Codes and the forecast for life outcomes.
Where you live should not determine how long you live, but it does. In fact, health has more to do with place than doctors’ visits. The odds are stacked against low-income communities and communities of color. Because of a legacy of racial and economic segregation, anti-immigrant policy, and a host of other historical “isms,” there are many communities in the United States where the neighborhood environment conspires to harm residents. These environments lack basic health-protective amenities like parks, grocery stores, decent schools, functioning transportation systems, affordable and decent housing, living wage jobs, and even potable water in some instances. Public systems are on life support, stranding residents in pressure cookers of stress. These neighborhood and community environments are not natural; they are manmade and can be unmade.
Sena Mourad Friedman, the first-time writer, and director joined The Fair Housing Center in Toledo in August 2014. She currently serves as the Director of Development and Communications, coordinating media activities, marketing, and advertising, community outreach, and special projects. For the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, Sena led TFHC’s projects and events to celebrate the milestone. She planned and executed the Ohio Fair Housing Summit and the community-based key collection for the community art sculpture, “Keys to Opportunity.”
Through her writing and directing of the documentary Zip Code Matters, Sena presents the issue of fair housing through a systemic lens to highlight the disparate impact that policies and regulations have on the Black community and other communities of color. As a civil rights advocate, Sena’s goal is to help people understand how the U.S. government perpetuated institutional discrimination through the segregation of cities.
Before joining The Fair Housing Center, Sena worked in the television industry in senior management positions. She has served on various boards and committees in the Toledo community, supporting local nonprofits and planning successful large-scale events. Currently, she is Board Chair for Lucas County Mental Health Recovery Serves Board, and a board member of the Toledo Chapter NAACP serving as Housing Committee Chair. In recognition of her community involvement, Sena received the Ohio Leadership Award and The Walter P. Reuther Award. In 2001, the City of Toledo awarded Sena the CityScape award for her work on Union Memorial Park. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Jiminy Cricket Environmental Award from Disney. Sena is a graduate of the Fundamentals of Fair Housing and has attended the Bridges Out of Poverty workshop.
According to The Fair Housing Center’s Sena Mourad Friedman, Director of the film, “The idea for this project was born when someone challenged me to explain how in the world could a zip code matter when it comes to life determinants. It hit me that if you grew up in a neighborhood that is a well-resourced neighborhood you truly cannot wrap your brain around how where you grow up matters to the success you have in your life.”